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Jevons’ Paradox debunked

AndrewInChelseaQC | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

We provide new statistical evidence to show that energy efficiency policies and programs can reliably cut energy use—a finding that is consistent with the policy stance of leading experts and organizations like the US Energy Information Agency (EIA) and the World Bank. (link)

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Of course Shakeb Afsah's analysis is valuable. However, his essay does not yet put the last nail in Jevons' coffin.

    I heartily agree with one of Shakeb Afsah's points: that we desperately need energy efficiency improvements, and efforts to achieve better energy efficiency should not be abandoned because of the rebound effect.

    However, the fact that U.S. residential energy intensity per square foot has declined slightly does not mean we are out of the woods, as long as homes continue to get larger, as long as there are fewer people per household, and as long as we take jet airplanes to our vacation destinations.

    Energy use per capita continues to rise in almost every country -- so the jury on this question is still out.

  2. AndrewInChelseaQC | | #2


    I agree with your points. I just worry that arguments for the Jevons paradox get misused by those who favour the status quo and decry efficiency measures.

    The banality of McMansions and trips to winter vacations to sunnier climes is only going to be addressed by internalizing the real costs. Which requires a price on carbon and pollution. At best, we can only hope for that unfortunately.


  3. wjrobinson | | #3

    OK,,, the seas rise, a few more wars, a few billion die possibly and nature just goes with the changes just like it does and always will.

    Not a fatalist but does anyone think today that we are getting out of here alive? Some might with all the genetic research.

    Still.... to me... green is a choice. I like it.

    just sayin... life is pretty neat... and then a disgruntled employee shoots..... so... if yaa like living and upsetting your employees... work on your evasive moves.

    aj's paradox

  4. gusfhb | | #4

    Jevons wrote in the 1860's, most are talking about modern interpretations of his theory. His theory is worthless to modern oil etc consumption. No one in their right mind is looking for new ways to burn oil[as they were coal in his time]

    The 'real' problem is we are still dealing with the Reagan/Bush/Clinton[newt]/Bush era of refusing to do anything with efficiency standards. CAFE plateaued in 1987 and in 1987 we used less oil than in 1973, Oil prices dropped, viola. SUVs. This is not Jevons. it is stupidity. If we maintain efficiency standards even in the face of volatile energy prices, we will be in control of our fuel usage.

    If we ramp up efficiency standards in a regular sane way, it will prevent the SUV/Mcmansion phenomena even as fuel prices drop due to supply demand effects. Money that was wasted on suvs can buy useful things[pink flamingos etc] If energy does not drop[because China buys it all] then we are positioned better in the world economy.

  5. wjrobinson | | #5

    Keith... sell me NG without a monthly base fee. Same with electricity.

    Then sell me car insurance as I buy fuel. Then I will own a second vehicle that holds one person and gets 100 mpg for most days.

    Get rid of property tax and put that tax amount on consumption of nonrenewables. Bingo... we all adjust.

    Change all economies to self supporting regional pods. I like that idea. Drop all regulations for business completely for gross incomes of less than $100,000 and 5 people. No WC no lawsuits allowed, no chains allowed to convert to it. Make the bottom up approach to life friction free or as friction free as possible.

    Get rid of income tax and just have corporations collect tax on sales.. They are big and have the resources to deal with that kind of friction efficiently.

    The nineties really were about the efficiently that personal computers brought to the world. And there is much more where that came from. But at this point we need to totally revamp how government is involved. We need government to change now as fast as the world changes.

    What are we going to do the day that geneticists work out a plan that adds a thousand years to a lifetime. Changes are a coming.

    And pink flamingo wars.... some of my favorite pics..... are of these wars friends of mine are having over the last decade of birthdays!

    Nature... Enjoy... pretty cool to be.

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